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Breaks Go Wrong Way for Rettenmaier and Her Father in Final

When Tom and Bettina Rettenmaier of Camarillo debuted last week in the National Father-Daughter Grass Court championships near Boston, nobody uttered the encouraging show-business refrain “break a leg” as they stepped onto the court with meager expectations.

It wouldn’t have been appropriate for Tom, who had knee surgery in January.

But strangely, the Rettenmaiers romped to the final, during which Tom suffered a broken right leg.

The Rettenmaiers were surprised to find themselves playing for the championship at the Longwood Cricket Club in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

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Then they found themselves routing Heidi and Visily Cakans of Milwaukee, winning the first set, 6-0.

Then came the freak accident with the score tied, 1-1, in the second set.

Tom severely twisted his right ankle while chasing down a lob. He felt little pain, so he continued to play. But he could barely stand on the leg.

With Tom hobbling, the Cakans closed out the match, 0-6, 7-5, 6-2.

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“We would have won the whole thing,” Tom said. “Their style was perfect for us. They didn’t hit very hard and they played a defensive style. We hit the ball as hard as we can.

“It was pretty bizarre. I’m not in any pain. I’m not even using crutches.”

Tom, 45, will have surgery next week after doctors discovered a break in the fibula four inches above his ankle as well as ligament damage in the ankle.

Two metal plates will be screwed together to support the shin, requiring three to four months of rehabilitation before Tom can start playing again.

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After upsetting Don Burrows and Darian Chappell of Camarillo (stepfather-stepdaughter), 7-6, 6-2, in the semifinals, the Rettenmaiers realize they can win one of these championships.

“It was great,” said Bettina, 16, a junior at Camarillo High. “There were a lot of teams there that expected to win. We weren’t one of them, but we were loose and having fun.”

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Trivia time: Name the 17-year-old girl from Thousand Oaks who reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open in 1981.

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H.M. Womack of Glendale has won numerous accolades as one of the best senior doubles players in the region.

Among his achievements are four Southern California age-group championships and the nation’s No. 2 ranking in 65-and-over doubles five years ago.

But a most unique honor came this year for his impersonations of Abraham Lincoln.

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Womack, 70, was presented a certificate in June by the Freedom Foundation, a national nonprofit organization based in Valley Forge, Pa., dedicated to teaching the principles of the Constitution.

It has honored more than 50,000 people like the bearded Womack, who dons a coat, vest and top hat and recites from memory a variety of Lincoln addresses for school kids and civic groups.

“I’m not your prototype Lincoln,” said Womack, who is 6 feet, 175 pounds. “But I have a lot of fun doing it.”

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Where have you gone, Meilen Tu?

The answer: into seculsion.

The Northridge teenager who turned professional two years ago after winning the United States Tennis Assn. National Junior championships in the 18-and-under division is training in Florida.

Meilen would rather not disclose her exact whereabouts or talk to repobters in an effort to minimize distractions, her mother, Mei Tu, said.

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Tu has been plagued by arm, stomach and back injuries this year, and her world ranking has dropped from 117th to 179th over the past 18 months.

Healthy again, Tu’s most significant victory this year came last week when she upset second-seeded Rene Simpson, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, in the first round of the U.S. Open qualifying tournament.

She lost in straight sets to Maria Jose Gaidano in the second round, however, missing a chance to play in the main draw.

“She’s playing better tennis than last year,” her mother said. “She’s just had to rest because of the injuries.”

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Mei Tu also suggested that Meilen felt too much pressure living at home and always playing in front of her family.

“She’s playing for herself now, not her family, and she’s happier that way,” Mei said.

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Trivia answer: Playing in only her fourth pro tournament, qualifier Barbara Gerken beat Ros Fairbank, Andrea Buchanan, Wendy Turnbull and Jo Durie to reach the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open.

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